Mike Petrucci Small

There is no greater obstacle to job creation in the retail industry than being forbidden from opening your doors to trade due to government regulation.

It remains the case that many states across Australia maintain complex and excessive layers of regulation concerning retail trading hours. The different legislation requirements for retailers throughout Australia proves problematic for businesses and often creates confusion for consumers.

The ACT and Northern Territory both have unrestricted retail trading hours, while NSW and Tasmania both have relatively low levels of regulation on when retail businesses can and can’t open. However, current legislation in Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland are quite complex and in deep need of modernisation.

The Queensland Government recently announced that it will establish a reference group to consider how Queensland could address anomalies within the State’s complex retail trading laws. The review was instigated following a proposal from the government to make Easter Sunday a public holiday and I’m pleased to announce that the National Retail Association is one of the key stakeholders participating in the review.

While the NRA is open to the idea of allowing retailers across Queensland having the choice to open their doors on Easter Sunday, this should be done in conjunction with reform to the State’s Trading Act.  It is already the case that some retail outlets in some parts of Queensland, are already able to trade on Easter Sunday, while others are not. Given the archaic nature of the current laws, it is entirely plausible that many Queensland retail outlets will remain closed unless corresponding changes are also made to the laws governing retail trade.

The current system must be simplified and clarified in order to bring the legal framework into line with consumer needs and community standards. It is incredible to think that in Queensland there are in excess of 50 separate trading zones, each with different rules. We look forward to working with the Minister and other stakeholders to achieve reform that allows greater flexibility for retailers and that better serves the needs of Queensland consumers.

Not only does the NRA hope to play a constructive role with the Queensland Government on this issue, but we also hope this in turn provokes similar action in other states currently operating under rigorous and outdated legislation.

The NRA firmly believes that individual retail businesses are the one’s best placed to determine whether opening their doors for trade is in their interest or not. Retailers will always have a far greater understanding of consumer preferences than a bureaucrat within a government agency.

If progress is able to be made with respect to retail trading laws in Queensland, the NRA is hopeful that this will also lead to corresponding reform in other states that presently impose extensive regulatory burdens on retail businesses.